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Pirate Notebook No. 467
Monday, July 4, 2011

Denny O'Brien

ECU should ignore Appalachian


ECU should ignore Appalachian
Football impacts the diamond
Holland coaching tree branches out
Connors makes way for movie
Q&A with Brian Mitchell
Baseball Polls: Pirates ranked 29th by NCBWA
Q&A with Lincoln Riley
Season will hinge on Davis's supporting cast
ECU foursome set for debut on the big stage
One-on-One with...
(ECU Media Relations Photos)

Bonesville features writer Ron Cherubini conducted Q&A exchanges with East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley (left) and Pirate defensive boss Brian Mitchell (right). The net result: candid glimpses into the thinking inside the program heading into next season. Links to the interviews:

Lincoln Riley Q&A
Brian Mitchell Q&A

By Denny O'Brien
All Rights Reserved.

Terry Holland’s decision to play a basketball game against Appalachian State in Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena was a curious one.

Hopefully it isn’t the prelude to a future Queen City matchup with the Mountaineers on the gridiron.

Now that Virginia Tech and ECU have shifted two of their games to 2016 and 2017, the Pirates suddenly have an opening on the football schedule over each of the next two seasons. Given the draw Holland has to both in-state opponents and games in Bank of America Stadium, you can’t help but wonder if he and App AD Charlie Cobb already are in discussions about a possible showdown in Charlotte.

If there is one non-conference scheduling move the Pirates shouldn’t make — aside from another game against a perennial Top 25 opponent — it’s one that places them opposite of Appalachian on a neutral field. That, at least to a certain degree, would create the perception to some that the Mountaineers and Pirates are on equal footing.

And clearly they aren’t.

It also would generate the potential for a near-home like atmosphere for ASU. Given Charlotte’s proximity to Boone, not to mention the number of alums residing in the Mecklenburg County area, Appalachian likely would outdraw the Pirates, even if by only a small margin.

Now if ECU is bent on extending more benevolence Appalachian’s way, then inviting the Mountaineers back to Dowdy-Ficklen for one of its scheduling vacancies should be the only choice. Truthfully, though, there is no reason for Holland to take such an approach considering he already threw the Mountaineers a bone — and it nearly came back to bite him.

Which is exactly why ECU should avoid scheduling App.

(Granted the Pirates near-slip against Appalachian in 2009 wasn’t Holland’s fault. He didn’t choose to sleepwalk after ECU sprinted to an early 24-0 lead.)

Instead of granting the Mountaineers another chance to build their FBS case, the Pirates should use the opportunity to schedule a different Football Championship Subdivision opponent. Old Dominion and William & Mary are much closer, and each would bring a respectable contingent to Greenville.

Keep in mind the Tribe’s visit in 2001 drew the biggest home crowd that season.

Given the Pirates’ over-aggressive non-conference scheduling philosophy, Virginia Tech’s request to rearrange future games could be a blessing for ECU. It could certainly use a breather by filling those slots with home games against neighboring FCS opponents.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with occasionally scheduling an automatic win.

And though ECU likely would breeze by Appalachian — providing the Pirates' don't downshift into neutral — there is simply no reason to play the Mountaineers at neutral site. Regardless of the circumstance.

Costly suspension

Just a hunch, but I’m guessing East Carolina will overcome the suspension of Michael Bowman in the opener against South Carolina. If there is one area in which the Pirates have an abundance of talent, it is in the receiving corps.

The better question is whether or not ECU can overcome the loss of cornerback Emanuel Davis. I’m guessing not.

If there is one player on an already shaky defense the Pirates cannot afford to lose, it’s Davis. He is ECU’s most veteran and polished defender, and he has by far logged the most snaps of anyone in the secondary.

Perhaps the biggest talent and experience drop-off on the entire ECU depth chart is between Davis and his backup. What’s more, Davis would have drawn the assignment of covering Gamecocks receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who figures to be one of the top receivers taken in next year’s draft.

That’s not a good scenario for the Pirates.

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07/04/2011 01:41 AM

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